Scottish football is recovering. It may not be what it once was in terms of stature, at least compared with other leagues around Europe, but it at least seems that we’ve hit our nadir and are on the way back up.
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Unfortunately, we’re still a long way away from matching the financial might of England’s lower divisions, let alone the top flight league south of the border. As a result, we’re still having to sit back helplessly every transfer window and watch as our biggest and brightest are lured away.
It’s always painful when our favourites leave. These are the guys responsible of the happiest moments we have, especially in the last couple of years, and it hurts to think they’ll never give that feeling ever again.
There’s no point pretending they don’t exist. That’s not healthy. We should confront these feelings of loss head on. Embrace the pain. Don’t mute or delete their accounts on social media. Be proud of that top with their name on the back. Remember the good times and cherish the moments we had. There’s plenty more fish in the sea.
KENNY McLEAN (ABERDEEN)
The heartbreak: One of those weird ones where the relationship ends but they continue cohabiting. Even stranger was that the arrangement worked out perfectly as both sides thrived individually as a result: McLean got back to his best and Aberdeen finished second (again). Of course, it couldn’t go on forever and McLean joined Norwich City when his loan back to Aberdeen finished in the summer.
What we’ll miss most: His terrific range of passing. He also had the ability to both dictate the flow of the game from deep and become a goal threat in the final third.
What we’ll always remember him by: A penalty scored and a star turn in his final game at Pittodrie, against Rangers no less, was a fitting end to his time in the north-east.
STUART ARMSTRONG (CELTIC)
The heartbreak: After difficulties last summer, both player and club decided to have another go at things but the magic had gone. Southampton saw an opportunity and whisked him off his feet.
What we’ll miss most: His flawless barnet and long-range shooting ability. As the song goes: “his hair is fine, he scores BELTERS all the time...”
What we’ll always remember him by: His stunning improvement under Brendan Rodgers. He went from a squad player who wasn’t particularly rated by fans to a nailed-on starter for Scotland and worthy of a £7million transfer fee in the final year of his deal.
DAVID MILINKOVIC (HEARTS)
The heartbreak: A casual fling looked certain to become something permanent, only for Milinkovic to have his head turned as he demanded more money after initial contract negotiations and eventually signed for Hull City.
What we’ll miss most: His social media game. Even Instagram models don’t take as many selfies (both photos and videos) as the French-Serbian winger. Despite such obvious vanity there was a certain charm to it all, even if he was often in danger of driving recklessly by doing so behind the wheel of a car.
What we’ll always remember him by: His double and tremendous performance in the stunning 4-0 win over Celtic will live long in the memory - as will the Instagram video where he said “f*** the Hibs”, about the only English words fans heard him say all season.
DYLAN McGEOUCH (HIBS)
The heartbreak: Hope that he was coming back lingered in the air for a few agonising weeks, only for the gut-punch to arrive when it was finally confirmed that he’d joined Sunderland.
What we’ll miss most: His ability to dictate a game all by himself with his flawless short-range passing and unflappable confidence in possession.
What we’ll always remember him by: McGeouch is one of several modern-day legends for playing a role in Hibs bringing the Scottish Cup back to Easter Road. His dominating displays in Edinburgh derbies were welcomed also.
JOHN McGINN (HIBS)
The heartbreak: The writing was on the wall for some time. It was amicable and he goes with best wishes. John McGinn is an Aston Villa player, best of luck to him. But it still hurts.
What we’ll miss most: His arse. No football player in recent memory (with perhaps the exception of Gary Hooper) has been so efficient with their derrière, whether it was his ability to shove it into a pressing opponent before rolling around them and driving forward with the ball, or when he was being closed down in a crowded midfield area, where he would manage to win a free-kick by halting his run and sticking his backside right into the chasing defender just as they arrived, thus knocking him to the ground. He also runs like he’s getting out of a helicopter.
What we’ll always remember him by: Aside from playing a part in the 2016 Scottish Cup triumph, another moment fans will fondly remember was his winner in the League Cup semi-final triumph over St Johnstone that same season. It was the moment “Super John McGinn” was born.
YOUSSOUF MULUMBU (KILMARNOCK)
The heartbreak: He’s free and single but he’s not moved on. We know there’s very little chance of him coming back, but we can dream. Can’t we?
What we’ll miss most: His ability to completely dominate opponents with both flawless technique and brute strength.
What we’ll always remember him by: The Congolese international pulled out one of the performances of last season to help Kilmarnock defeat Celtic in front of the BT Sport cameras, including scoring the only goal of the game.
CEDRIC KIPRE (MOTHERWELL)
The heartbreak: It all happened so suddenly. One minute Kipre was there and everything was wonderful, the next he was on his way to Wigan Athletic in a £1million deal. It still doesn’t feel real.
What we’ll miss most: His forays into attack, either stepping out of defence with the ball or picking up a loose one from a set-piece. He would confidently take on and skin opponents while looking as graceful as a wheelie bin.
What we’ll always remember him by: Unfortunately the overriding memory has to be the two unjust red cards he received in matches against Celtic. While he was loved by so many, the world did not treat him fairly.
“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
READ MORE - Cedric Kipre joins Wigan from Motherwell